How to catch a gravitational wave: Exploring the universe with LIGO

Coordinators: Duncan Brown

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) made the first detection of gravitational waves on September 14, 2015. LIGO detected the ripples in spacetime made by the collision of two black holes, each about thirty times the mass of the sun. A second ripple from another pair of colliding black holes was detected on December 26, 2015, and a third detection event is being debated now. These discoveries mark the end of a century-long quest to directly detect Einstein's gravitational waves and the beginning of an entirely new field of science: gravitational-wave astronomy. How does LIGO work and how does it detect gravitational waves? What can LIGO's observations tell us about the nature of gravity, the physics of black holes, and the history of the massive stars that formed these black holes? What other sources of gravitational waves exist and what can gravitational waves tell us about the universe as a whole? In this conference, we will answer these questions and explore ways to bring this exciting new astrophysics to the classroom.

**Please note that you must reserve your hotel room by February 26 in order to ensure your inclusion in the KITP block, at our discounted rate.**